4 I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful.
5 Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; the farmers will plant them and enjoy their fruit.
The above passage was God’s message through Prophet Jeremiah at the time when the people of Israel were exiled after their own homeland was conquered. It was a result of their disobedience and continuous rejection of God. They chose to rely on their own strength rather than God. As a result, their country was invaded and destroyed by their enemies. In order to prevent them rebuilding their country, their conqueror had decided to split them up and sent them to various parts of the empire. Thus, the exile.
Does it sound like the end of the 2 kingdoms – Israel and Judah? You must remember that God was very angry with them for rejecting him. Do you feel this way as well? You may have experienced the greatest defeat in your life. Everything that you have worked hard for and built in all these years has been destroyed. You have lost everything and in deep debt. Everything around you spells doom. You can’t see any possible way to restore your former achievements.
To make matter worse, you may not be in good terms with God in the past. You could be an arrogant person who had put down God and the people who trusted in him. You could have insulted God and preferred to live in sin. So, you are finding it hard to believe that God is on your side now.
If you can identify with the above scenario, I have good news for you. God’s love and mercy is far greater than your sin and rebellion. God had shown his love and mercy to a group of people who had been sinning for generations before and he will do it again. Yes, he will restore you regardless of how impossible the situation looks like or how rebellious you were in the past. The above passage is the proof.
In Jeremiah 31:4-5 God promised to rebuild Israel. Why does he need to do that? Israel was destroyed when it was attacked. Imagine yourself being an Israelite at that time. Your nation was destroyed. You and your fellow citizens are now exiled to another place. Unlike your ancestors who left Egypt, you don’t have a lot of gold and silver with you. Your God, who has been protecting your people has rejected you and delivered your nation to your enemies. Will you still dare to entertain any hope that your once glorious nation will be restored?
Yet, despite his anger, God promised restoration. He promised to rebuild your cities to the state that you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful. From the sound of it, I don’t think God’s way of rebuilding cities is setting up refugee camps. There must be real cities with permanent buildings and proper infrastructures. I have learned from the Bible that God knows how to do his job.
In verse 6, God promised that you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria. Why Samaria? It is home ground. This means the exiles will not be back to their home country just for holidays. God promised them permanent homes where they can plant their vineyards. Planting vineyards here refers to financial income. So the exiles will be able to come back to their home country, stay there for good and establish their prosperity like having farms, factories, shops etc. God promised success in their works – the farmers will plant them and enjoy their fruit.
Please note that these words were spoken at the time when there was no clue at all that it can happen. The Israelites at that time had lost everything and at the mercy of their invaders. Yet God had no problem making such promise. By time of Ezra, the people of Israel started to go back home. God kept his promises.
What does this means to us today? You may have lost everything and fallen into a pit so deep that you find it impossible to rise again. All you need to do is to believe that God can and will restore you. You need to trust in him. Don’t give up. Don’t be despair. Rise up from the ashes of sorrow and start praising God. When you do so, you are in position to receive the restoration from God.
He will build you up again and you will be rebuilt. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful. You will reestablish your prosperity in your home ground. You will plant your seeds and enjoy your harvest.
If you want the above promise to come true in your life, you must be determined to keep believing.